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Part 4 — Do we need Free Software? — Where do we go from here?

20130510 (2013 May 10 Friday)

Try it

You can get many Free Software applications for Microsoft-Windows and Apple-Mac, but to really appreciate it you will need to run a Free operating system such as Gnu/Linux.

Debian Gun/Linux (and many others) will run directly from CD/DVD (live CD), so you don’t have to install it to try it.


“So how do I start using free software, I use xyz, I can’t change, I depend on abc.” Your current software provider does not care about your freedom. Sorry this is not fair, they do care, they care that you have none: They are actively trying to take away your freedom. This includes the freedom of choice, the freedom to change your mind, to use alternative software. They do this my making there software not interoperate, and by scaring you: telling you the other software is “incompatible”.

So you are locked in, how do you escape, don’t panic it is possible.

We will now look at migration roots. If you are new to computers you are lucky it is easy for you. However you will probably have the most fear, and need the most support. However if you are well entrenched you will need a migration strategy. You will need to start to move to a new way, but if you try it all at once you may fail. First I will show some things to consider, then show some ideas of what you can change.

Levels of freedom

  1. Awareness

    The most important step, if you miss this step you may be tempted by non-free software.
    It is important to value your freedom, to fight for it and to pay for it;
    Be prepared to pay more for Free Software than for non-free software.
    Remember Free Software is about freedom not price.

  2. Avoid lockin — use open standards (file formats / network protocols)

    It can be hard to change; We have been using software that uses proprietary formats, to lock us in, for years, so it may be difficult to change. Ironically it is easier for new users to adopt Free Software, but these are the least confident to do it on there own (so ask for help, or offer help depending on who you are). However it is still possible to change, and the sooner you do it the easier it is. An important step is to avoid lock-in by using open protocols/file formates.

  3. Use some Free Software

    You can run some Free Software on Microsoft Windows, Apple Mac and other proprietary systems.

  4. Install a Free operating system, such as Gnu/Linux

    You can install Gnu/Linux on most hardware including PC and Mac.

  5. Use 100% Free Software

Other factors

  • Free market vs closed market.
  • Free file formats / network protocols vs Locked-in.
  • Multiple supplier vs single supplier.

Migration Tools

  • Free Software is well established on servers, if you are running a business then migrate you servers to Free Software.
  • Stop generating files/documents in non open formats: Continue to use the old proprietary software only to read old files/documents, and configure the old tools to write open formats — Microsoft Office can now be configured to write Open Document Format.
  • Look at what Free Software applications are available for your current operating system.
  • Try out a Free operating system using a live CD/DVD.
  • Install a Free operating system, duel boot or in a virtual machine.
  • Then when you are doing most stuff with the Free system, put the old proprietary system in the virtual machine, with the Free system as the main system.

Above all find someone that can help you.

We have looked at reasons to use Free Software, but why write it?

  • Because it is the right thing to do.
  • Because I can be part of a community.
  • Because it gives be an opportunity to learn and extend my skills.
  • Because I want to give back, in gratitude for what I have received.
  • Because it well reduce my maintenance costs.
  • etc.

Be careful with language

Alternative names and confusing words

What about alternative names to avoid confusion of the word free, such as Open Source?
Some people use the term “Open Source”. Most software that is Open Source is Free Software. But the ideas are different.

In a mailing list post, MJ Ray FROM the Association For Free Software described some of the reasons why they strongly prefer the term “free software”:–

“Open Source” is an ambiguous phrase with definitions FROM OSI, !OeE, Becta, Microsoft(!) and many others. One of the original reason for the Open Source Initiative was to remove ambiguity by securing a trademark on the phrase (wishful thinking?) and to clarify things through marketing it. However, they didn’t get the trademark and their marketing effort is dwarfed by other people defining “open source” as other things. The Free Software Definition is simpler and the ideas have had 20 years or so to establish themselves.

Another reason for “Open Source” was to remove the connection with the ideas of sharing and being a good member of the community. From what I heard at the conference, those are still very popular ideas with people working in education. Some people class promotion of these ideas as political. I guess in that case, Chris could call AFFS a political group. Oh well. I’m not sure why it would be less popular with educators or why it should stop us promoting free software for the practical benefits too, though.

If you sympathize with the goal of providing effective promotion of our preferred software licensing, please use the older term “Free Software” and do the relatively simple explanation about “free as in freedom.” Ambiguity and division never help marketing.

note: Freedoms 1 and 3 require source code to be available because studying and modifying software without its source code is highly impractical.

The opposite of Free is proprietary, do not use the word commercial; Free Software can be exchanged for money, it can be commercial.

Do not use the word Intellectual Property. It lumps together many concepts, and allows the idea of theft to be applied. You can not steal in idea, as you can not take it off of somebody. They still have it, and you have it. You copied it, you grew it, there is now more of it than there was before.

Some people say “for free” this is not the same, you can sell Free Software.
Some people say “Freeware” or “Shareware” these are term that refereed to something else.
Some people say “free download” this is the same at “free of charge” is Free Software.
Some people say “Linux“ Linux is the most common kernel used in Gnu. If we refer to Gnu/Linux as just Linux, then what do we call Linux. Android phones contain Linux, but (usually) not Gnu. When you hear that Android contains Linux you may be fooled into thinking is like your desktop (Gnu/Linux).

What are we for, what are we against

We are not against anything, we are for freedom. We would like you to have freedom when you use your computer, but we are not saying you should use a computer.

We are not against the software companies, no, we believe that people should be free to sell software, including Free Software.

This is about your freedom, not about the suppliers. You have to demand Free Software (and be prepared to pay for it), or you won’t get it.


  • Free Software is about your Freedom, not about price.
  • We believe you will be free only when your device is free.
  • We believe that your device is your device.
  • We believe you should be able to decide what you want to do today.
  • We believe you should live in a world without walls, fences and gates 🙂

What will you do next?

  • Try some Free Software today:
    • Download and use some Free Software for your current System.
    • Download a live Gnu/Linux System, and try it out.
    • Ask for help?
  • Tell other about Free Software.
    • Tell people what is happening and what exists.
    • Tell people about Freedom.
    • Use the words Free Software and explain what Free means (Thus, “free software” is a matter of liberty, not price. To understand the concept, you should think of “free” as in “free speech,” not as in “free beer”).
    • Share a link to this blog.
    • Take the material improve it and share it.

Other resources


Other Free Software for windows

Other Free Software for Mac

Free Software Operating Systems — version 7 was released on 04 May 2013

About Free Software

See a list of all my blog posts on Free Software at

Licenses: Creative Commons License
Free Software by Richard Delorenzi is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

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